"A year later, 13-year-old Mathilda Savitch is still trying to make sense of her older sister Helene's death while also navigating adolescence; her grief-stricken parents have almost totally withdrawn. She's also broken into her sister's email account in an attempt to find the person she believes pushed Helene in front of the train that killed her, itself an attempt to get her parents' attention. But precocious though Mathilda is, she's also very young. Described by several reviewers as a modern-day Holden Caulfield (with, as Kirkus Reviews points out, "the ethereal sadness of Susie Salmon in The Lovely Bones"), Mathilda is a difficult but sympathetic character, and her story is a "stunning portrait" (Publishers Weekly) of the way grief and youthful imagination can intertwine to create a different reality." June 2013 Fiction A to Z newsletter http://www.nextreads.com/Display2.aspx?SID=5acc8fc1-4e91-4ebe-906d-f8fc5e82a8e0&N=645214
"I have a sister who died. Did I tell you this already? I did but you don't remember, you didn't understand the code....She died a year ago, but in my mind sometimes it's five minutes. In the morning sometimes it hasn't even happened yet. For a second I'm confused, but then it all comes back. It happens again."
Playwright Victor Lodato's first novel, Mathilda Savitch, follows a young girl desperately trying to glue her family back together after her sister is hit by a train. As the anniversary of the death approaches, Mathilda's mother consoles herself with alcohol and cigarettes while her father feebly attempts to keep up appearances. Mathilda, herself, struggles both to understand the mysterious accident and to accept what she finds to be the truth.
The result is a heartbreaking though darkly humourous book told from the point of view of an inquisitive, quirky, angry and fearless teen whose voice lingers long after the book ends.
What some may find humorous I found deeply disappointing. And I wonder why every family in fiction that is considered witty is also warped. Even with a sibling dying this family can't even seem to speak to anyone let alone each other. And Mathilda is a very poor narrator in trying to weave together what could have been a very eye opening and sympathetic portrayal of a family in crisis.
Mathilda is a very unreliable narrator, and who can blame her? Her older sister has died, leaving her alone with her parents, who have retreated into their own private grief. As she tries to come to terms with the true nature of her sister's death, she does some pretty awful things. A very interesting read.
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